This Summer’s Hottest Trend: Mindful Sunbathing

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This month, I’ve been thinking about skin.  I’ve been learning about how to care for it, especially now that the sun is shining and I spend as much time soaking it in as possible.  On the east coast, I had to take extreme measures to stay cool.  I used my freezer to chill all plates, bowls, and utensils before eating my raw summer meals.  I tortured my stomach with an obscene amount of iced coffee, not due to a caffeine addiction, but simply to the fact that coffee shops are air-conditioned, and my apartment was not.  Out here, I find myself trying to keep warm much more often than cool.  And so, I sit in the sun and I don’t always protect myself the way I should.
As I was sitting in the sun today, it stuck me that while our skin requires so much protection in the summer, it exists to protect us.  It keeps us safe from weather, chemicals, infection.  When we fall down, we may bruise and break our skin, but it never gives up, it’s never offended.  It just keeps on growing and serving us.  If we don’t love it back, however, it may fall in to irreversible ill repair.  (Melanoma is the fastest growing cancer with 1 in 50 Americans at risk.)

I guess karma, cause and effect, give and receive, are ideas as old as the sun.  However, I don’t usually apply them internally.  I think of my person as a whole making choices and dealing with the consequences as a whole.  But, as we all know, people are complex.  Our hearts are mysterious and layered.  Our minds malleable, our memories deep and changing.  Our bodies are trillions of cells giving and receiving on many different levels without ebb.

How can I ensure that there is a flow of good karma within, that even the deepest parts of my soul that I am still getting to know are giving when and where they should, and receiving what they need?  I guess I can’t be sure.  What I can do is live consciously.  This is a gift I can give myself.  The decision-making parts of me can listen to the deeper parts of me and receive the gifts of insight they provide.  I can sit in the sun and burn my flesh.  Or I can sit mindfully in the sun, taking the time to make good decisions about skin care, spf’s, length of exposure, knowing that my mind, body, and heart are in a constant flow of energy that always benefits from mindfulness.

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”   Thich Nhat Hanh

Some tips to mindfully enjoy the sun.

Learn more about skin and skin cancer.